Do you make a New Year’s resolution every year? About half of all Americans do, research shows, and the most common resolutions include losing weight, working out more and eating healthier. But many folks give up on them after a month, and part of the problem may be that it takes time to form habits - an average of 66 days.
That’s why experts recommend starting now - yup ! in the middle of the holiday season - because it could boost your New Year’s resolution into being a habit by the end of January. Here’s what else they recommend to make New Year’s resolutions that last.
- When deciding on a resolution, Dr Beth Frates, president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, recommends thinking about the six pillars of health: nutritious diet, physical activity, restorative sleep, elimination of substances (like cigarettes), positive relationships and stress reduction. Then compare your daily habits to the guidelines for these pillars and see how you can improve.
- Simpler habits form faster than complicated ones. But Dr Jennifer Ashton, ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent, warns that you don’t want to go too far the other way by choosing a goal that’s too easy because it might not be challenging enough to keep your attention.
- A reasonable goal for someone is a SMART goal, Frates says, explaining that a SMART Goal is one that’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. So if you want to run more, a goal to “run four days a week for 30 minutes'' is more specific than just “run more.”
- A time-bound goal comes with a deadline for when to reassess success. After four weeks, a new SMART goal can be made based on your progress the previous month. Frates explains, “Setting a short-term goal that aligns with your long-term goals will help you stay on track.”
- And if you miss a day, it’s not the end of the world, missing one day doesn’t reduce the chance of forming the habit.